Walter Cronkite died today at age 92. This legendary news anchor was a fixture in American households, anchoring the CBS evening news for 19 years beginning in 1962. Cronkite saw Americans through historical events from the Cuban missle crisis, John F. Kennedy assassination, Apollo moon landing, and Watergate to the Iran hostage crisis.
Walter Leland Cronkite will be remembered for the closing words to his broadcasts “and that’s the way it is” followed by the date. When Walter Cronkite retired from broadcasting in 1981, President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Walter Cronkite also will be remembered for his fair-minded reporting of many critical events in American history. With characteristic integrity, Cronkite held off on announcing that President Kennedy had died when initial reports came in, instead telling the American public that reports of Kennedy’s death had not been confirmed. When Walter Cronkite was handed an official flash announcing Kennedy’s death, he struggled to retain his composure making the announcement, something Americans of that generation will always remember.
“Fast, accurate and unbiased” was Walter Cronkite’s news credo and perhaps that is why Walter Cronkite will also be remembered as a poll once described him: the most trusted figure in American life.
When CBS briefly replaced Cronkite with Robert Trout and Roger Mudd during the 1964 nominating conventions in an effort to keep pace with competing newscasters Huntley and Brinkley of NBC, 11,000 viewers protested, leading CBS to restore Walter Cronkite to his anchor position.
While lauded for his objectivity in reporting the news, Walter Cronkite was only human. Not only did he struggle to hold back tears when announcing the Kennedy assassination, he cheered, “Go, baby,go!” when Apollo 11 launched into space toward the moon. Cronkite remained on the air for 27 out of 30 hours of the Apollo 11 space launch reporting.
Walter Cronkite remained active after his 1981 retirement, producing documentary films for Discovery Channel and PBS and writing his autobiography, A Reporter’s Life.
Walter Cronkite is survived by his son Chip and his daughters Kathy and Nancy. His wife of 65 years, Betsy Cronkite preceded him in death.
An American icon known for his integrity, Walter Cronkite lived a long and industrious life before dying today at 92 and, as Walter himself would say, “and that’s the way it is July 17, 2009.”
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Cronkite#The_CBS_Evening_News; http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-walter-cronkite18-2030oct20,0,212871.story; http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/C/htmlC/cronkitewal/cronkitewal.htm;